Daily Archives: July 5, 2017

Pakistan’s economic outlook improves significantly over last four years: PM

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Tuesday

said Pakistan’s economic outlook had improved significantly over the last four years, which was globally acknowledged.

The prime minister expressed these views while meeting to Chairman of

Huaneng Group Cao Peixi, who along with a delegation of company’s officials called on him here at the PM House, a press release issued by the Press Information Department said.

He said economic growth was well above 5 percent while the

foreign exchange reserves at US $ 24 billion were at the highest in the country’s history.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong was also

present during the meeting.

Welcoming the visiting delegation to Pakistan, the prime

minister informed them that Pakistan’s up-gradation to

Emerging Market by MSCI reflects the growing recognition of

Pakistan’s economic progress and potential.

Pakistan’s Stock Exchange was declared the best

performing Stock Market in Asia, which was attracting

significant foreign investments, he added.

The prime minister appreciated Cao Peixi for his exemplary leadership

and efforts to help Pakistan overcome electricity shortages by completing the Sahiwal Coal Power Project in a record period of 22 months,

ahead of the agreed commissioning schedule.

He felicitated Cao Peixi on being chosen for the conferment of

Hilal-i-Pakistan award by the president for his services and role in regard to completion of the project.

The award will be formally bestowed in the investiture

ceremony to be held at Aiwan-i-Sadr.

The prime minister hoped that the fast

track development of Sahiwal Coal Power Project will encourage

Chinese investors to seek further avenues of investment in

Pakistan.

He invited Huaneng Group, China for further investments

in the power sector of Pakistan including transmission lines

and local coal-based power projects.

Cao Peixi thanked the prime minister for choosing his

name for the prestigious Hilal-i-Pakistan award in recognition

of his services.

The meeting was also attended by Muhammad Chief Minister Punjab

Shehbaz Sharif and senior officials of the federal government and provincial government of the Punjab.

Source: Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage

President stresses to expedite process of tax refunds to small industries

President Mamnoon Hussain says the process of tax refunds to small industries should be expedited and they should be provided all necessary facilities to further strengthen the country’s economy.

Talking to a delegation of Pakistan Electric Fan Manufacturers Association headed by its Chairman Nabeel Ahmed Ilyas in Islamabad on Tuesday, he said that small industrialists can manufacture better products through proper usage of government concessions and exemptions.

The President appreciated that Pakistani fan industry is manufacturing energy efficient fans which is of great significance in the context of current energy situation.

He stressed the need for enhancing coordination between the fan industry and relevant ministries to further promote this trend so that issues of the industry could be resolved.

The President assured the delegation of his full support to resolve the issues of fan manufacturing industry.

He directed the Ministry of Industry and Production to take prompt measures to solve the problems of fan industry adding that in this regard cooperation of Ministry of Finance should also be sought.

Source: Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage

Pakistan Enhances Range of Controversial ‘Tactical’ Nuclear Weapon

ISLAMBABAD � Pakistan’s military announced Wednesday that it has successfully undertaken a series of flight tests of its battlefield nuclear-capable NASR missile this week, enhancing the rocket’s flight maneuverability and extending its range to 70 kilometers from 60.

This weapon system will augment credible deterrence against prevailing threat spectrum more effectively, including anti-missile defenses. NASR is a high precision weapon system with the ability of quick deployments, the Pakistan army’s media wing said when it released details of the flight testing process.

The development of Pakistani tactical nuclear weapons is a source of concern for the United States because their smaller size increases the risk of a nuclear conflict with rival India, non-proliferation experts say.

Pakistani officials say that smaller weapons would deter their bigger neighbor from imposing a sudden, limited and lightning assault with conventional forces under New Delhi’s Cold Start doctrine.

Pakistan army Chief General Qammmar Javed Bajwa, who has witnessed the Nasr flight tests, referred to the Indian doctrine.

“Nasr has put cold water on Cold Start. War must be avoided at all costs and our strategic capability is a guarantee of peace against a highly militarized and increasingly belligerent neighbor, the army statement quoted Bajwa as saying.

Our [nuclear] capability is only meant to ensure, no one thinks war remains an option, the general said.

Pakistan’s relations with India have deteriorated in recent years and military clashes along the disputed Kashmir border have lately become routine.

The disputed Himalayan region has triggered two of the three wars between India and Pakistan and it remains the primary source of regional tensions.

Source: Voice of America

U.S. Senators Call For New Strategy To Defeat Taliban In Afghanistan

A bipartisan delegation of U.S. senators visiting Afghanistan on July 4 called for a new strategy from the Trump administration to turn the tide against an increasingly strong Taliban insurgency and end the longest U.S. war.

The delegation, led by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, was in Kabul on a regional trip that included two days in neighboring Pakistan.

“None of us would say that we are on a course to success here in Afghanistan,” McCain said at a press briefing at NATO’s headquarters in Kabul.

“That needs to change, and quickly,” he said. “The strongest nation on Earth should be able to win this conflict.”

The Pentagon is currently reviewing strategy in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have been backing the fight against the Taliban for 16 years. It reportedly is considering recommending an increase in troops of 3,000 to 5,000.

But McCain (Republican-Arizona) and other senators suggested that an incremental increase in troops would not be enough. McCain was accompanied by Senators Lindsey Graham (Republican-South Carolina), Elizabeth Warren (Democrat-Massachusetts), Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat-Rhode Island), and David Perdue (Republican-Georgia).

The Taliban is “not going to negotiate unless they think they are losing,” McCain said. “So we need to win and have the advantage on the battlefield and then enter into a serious negotiation to resolve the conflict.”

McCain made a mark in the last decade by urging a “surge” in U.S. troops to win the war in Iraq before negotiating a peace accord there — a strategy adopted by former President George W. Bush that was credited with success at putting down the insurgency in Iraq at the time.

Senator Lindsey Graham said he would tell U.S. President Donald Trump that 8,600 American troops currently in Afghanistan “will not get the job done” and that more American troops along with more NATO troops should be deployed to “turn stalemate into success.”

Since the exit of most foreign troops in 2014, Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government has lost ground to the Taliban insurgency. A U.S. report found earlier this year that the Taliban controls or contests control of about 40 percent of the country.

Warren did not join with the others in pushing for more troops. She said she came to get “the view on the ground about what is happening” in Afghanistan.

“We need a strategy in the United States that defines our role in Afghanistan, defines our objective, and explains how we can get from here to there,” Warren said.

Last month, Trump gave Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to set American troop levels in Afghanistan, but as commander in chief Trump must sign off on an overall strategy for the war.

Mattis has said the strategy he will recommend, which will be presented to Trump by mid-July, will take a broader “regional” approach, with no set timetable.

U.S. security officials have privately said the most likely options will be to increase training and air support by 3,000 to 5,000 troops for still-inexperienced Afghan security forces, while also tracking down Al-Qaeda, Islamic State, and other Islamist extremists based in Afghanistan.

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, has said “several thousand” more foreign troops — mostly trainers — are needed to break a military stalemate with the Taliban.

In 2001, a U.S.-backed military intervention in Afghanistan toppled the Taliban regime, whose ultra-hard-line interpretation of Islamic law banned most women from public life and executed people not seen as sufficiently pious, such as men who had beards not considered long enough.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

Afghanistan Accepts Pakistan’s Offer of ‘Coordinated’ Anti-Terror Operations

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN � Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to conduct coordinated, complementary security operations against terrorist groups on their respective sides of the shared border, officials confirmed Wednesday.

A high-powered U.S. bipartisan congressional delegation led by Senator John McCain mediated the deal during its visit this week to Islamabad and Kabul.

The [U.S.] Senators said that the head of Pakistan’s armed forces, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, agreed to joint operations against terrorist groups in the Durand Line region, said an Afghan statement after Tuesday’s talks between President Ashraf Ghani and the U.S. delegation.

They said that the U.S. would provide monitoring and verification of these operations, the statement quoted McCain’s delegation as saying, while sharing the Pakistani proposal with Ghani.

The nearly 2,600-kilometer, largely-porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is called the Durand Line. Both countries regularly accuse each other of not doing enough on their respective sides to stop terrorist infiltration. The allegations are blamed for deep mutual mistrust and strained bilateral ties.

The Afghan government has welcomed the [Pakistani] proposal and a mechanism to undertake these simultaneous joint operations will be developed by our defense and security forces, Afghan presidential spokesman Dawa Khan Meenapal told VOA on Wednesday.

Pakistan military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor, when contacted by VOA, confirmed the security deal with Afghan counterparts. However, he dismissed the reported impression that Afghan forces would be allowed to step on Pakistani soil.

There is no concept of joint operations [on Pakistani soil]. Pakistan does not and will not allow foreign boots on the ground, said General Ghafoor.

He went on to explain that under the proposed coordinated, complementary operations, when Pakistani forces plan counterterrorism actions on their side of the border, Afghan counterparts will be required to mobilize forces on the other side and the other way around to prevent terrorists from fleeing.

McCain and his fellow senators, including Lindsay Graham, Sheldon Whitehouse, Elizabeth Warren and David Perdue, held talks with Pakistani civilian and military leaders and visited a tribal region near the Afghan border on Monday before traveling to Kabul for talks with leaders there.

President Ghani has long blamed Pakistan for not upholding its commitments to prevent terrorists from using Pakistani soil against Afghanistan. He has lately linked complete normalization of relations to the involvement of a third country to oversee actions and commitments undertaken by Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Afghan government alleges that Taliban insurgents and their ally, the Haqqani network, are using sanctuaries inside Pakistan for sustaining the insurgency in Afghanistan, charges Islamabad strongly rejects.

The offer of coordinated operations to Afghanistan came as Pakistan’s military is building a fence on the long border and undertaking other fortification measures to deter militant infiltration in either direction. Islamabad has long complained that a lack of coordination from the Afghan side has allowed militants to flee security operations in the volatile Pakistani tribal belt and take refuge in Afghan border areas to plot attacks against Pakistan.

Source: Voice of America

Pakistan’s Sharif Arrives In Tajikistan For Two-Day Visit, Talks With Afghan President

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Dushanbe on July 5 for a two-day official visit to Tajikistan.

Tajik Prime Minister Qohir Rasulzoda and other government officials met Sharif at Dushanbe International Airport upon his arrival.

Sharif also was scheduled to meet on July 6 with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during his visit.

Tajikistan’s Foreign Ministry said on July 5 that their trilateral meeting would focus on political interaction, economic issues, and the joint fight against threats to regional and international security.

The main emphasis among the economic issues will be placed on trade and investments, energy, transport infrastructure, and increasing contacts between the three counties’ business communities, the ministry said in a statement.

On July 6, Dushanbe is hosting heads of state and government from countries that are participating in CASA-1000, a Central Asia and South Asia power project.

That meeting is to be attended by Sharif, Rahmon, Ghani, and Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Ghani and Jeenbekov were scheduled to arrive in Dushanbe on July 6.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.